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Yet Another Blow To "Vestigial Organs": The Leg of the Horse
The Recapitulation Misconception

 Yet Another Blow To "Vestigial Organs": The Leg of the Horse

The latest blow to the myth of vestigial organs comes from a recent study on the leg of the horse. In an article in the 20-27 December 2001 issue of the journal Nature, titled "Biomechanics: Damper for bad vibrations," it is noted that "Some muscle fibres in the legs of horses seem to be evolutionary leftovers with no function. But in fact they may act to damp damaging vibrations generated in the leg as the horse runs." The article reads as follows:

Horses and camels have muscles in their legs with tendons more than 600 millimetres long connected to muscle fibres less than 6 millimetres long. Such short muscles can change length only by a few millimetres as the animal moves, and seem unlikely to be of much use to large mammals. The tendons function as passive springs, and it has been assumed that the short muscle fibres are redundant, the remnants of longer fibres that have lost their function over the course of evolution. But Wilson and colleagues argue… that these fibres might protect bones and tendons from potentially damaging vibrations….

Their experiments show that short muscle fibers can damp the damaging vibrations following the impact of a foot on the ground. When the foot of a running animal hits the ground, the impact sets the leg vibrating; the frequency of the vibrations is relatively high-for example, 30-40 Hz in horses-so many cycles of vibration would occur while the foot was on the ground if there were no damping.

The vibrations might cause damage, because bone and tendon are susceptible to fatigue failure. Fatigue in bones and tendons is the accumulation of damage resulting from repeated application of stresses. Bone fatigue is responsible for the stress fractures suffered by both human athletes and racehorses, and tendon fatigue may explain at least some cases of tendonitis. Wilson et al. suggest that the very short muscle fibres protect both bones and tendons from fatigue damage by damping out vibrations…316

In short, a closer loot at the anatomy of the horse revealed that the structures that have been considered as nonfunctional by evolutionists have very important functions.

In other words, scientific progress demonstrated that what was considered to be evidence for evolution is in fact evidence for design. Evolutionists should take a hint from this fact, if they are willing to do so. The Nature commentator seems to be reasonable:

Wilson et al. have found an important role for a muscle that seemed to be the relic of a structure that had lost its function in the course of evolution. Their work makes us wonder whether other vestiges (such as the human appendix) are as useless as they seem.317

This is not surprising. The more we learn about nature, the more we see the evidence for creation. As Michael Behe notes, "the conclusion of design comes not from what we do not know, but from what we have learned over the past 50 years."318 And Darwinism turns out to be an argument from ignorance, or, in other words, an "atheism of the gaps."

316 R. Mcneill Alexander, "Biomechanics: Damper For Bad Vibrations," Nature, 20-27 December 2001.
317 R. Mcneill Alexander, "Biomechanics: Damper For Bad Vibrations," Nature, 20-27 December 2001.
318 Behe's Seminar in Princeton, 1997